Park feeling welcome as he adjusts to life in US

Korean slugger spends week in Minnesota, meets teammates at TwinsFest

Park feeling welcome as he adjusts to life in US

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Byung Ho Park walked into TwinsFest for the first time Friday, he was greeted by a team of Twins employees who learned a few Korean phrases such as "Hello" and "Thank you."

It helped Park feel a bit more at home despite the fact he's more than 6,000 miles away from his native Seoul, South Korea. Park, who joined the Twins on a four-year deal worth $12 million after the club won the bid for him with a posting fee of $12.85 million, spent this week in Minnesota trying to acclimate himself with the culture and meet his teammates at TwinsFest.

"I felt very welcomed," Park said through interpreter Jae Woong Han. "I'm not sure how they knew, but when I came in they said, 'Thank you,' in Korean and it made for a really warm welcome."

Park, 29, spent two weeks training in Arizona before heading to Minnesota earlier in the week and will head to Fort Myers, Fla., next to get a head start at the club's Spring Training complex. He knows some English and was able to interact with his new teammates a bit, but admitted it's a bit of a sensory overload with nearly every player on the club's 40-man roster at TwinsFest over the weekend.

Twins welcome Byung Ho Park

"To be honest, there are a lot of players here, so I don't know all the faces and names, but I'm trying hard," Park said. "I hope I can get to know everyone really soon."

But one player Park named was Brian Dozier, who is Minnesota's burgeoning clubhouse leader and took time to try to get to know Park at the Diamond Awards on Thursday and the team party Friday.

"He knows more English than I thought," Dozier said. "Every day he's teaching himself more and more. He seems like a cool dude. Leading up the Diamond Awards, he didn't know anybody and didn't know what we were doing, so I was messing around with him pretty good just to make sure he knows he belongs and to make him feel comfortable."

Like everyone, Dozier is curious to see how Park's stats will translate, as he was a two-time MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization and hit a combined 105 homers over the past two seasons.

"Everyone keeps asking about how he's going to transition, but I'll tell you one thing, you don't hit over 100 home runs in two years by coincidence," Dozier said. "There will be a transition playing against the best pitchers in the world, but I don't think I could go over there and hit 100 home runs."

Twins introduce slugger Park

The Twins plan to be patient with Park, as they know it'll be a tough adjustment both to the culture and to Major League Baseball. But the club is also exploring potential marketing opportunities with businesses in Korea because of Park's fame back home.

"Byung Ho Park is an absolute superstar in Korea -- he comes here as the modern-day Babe Ruth of Korea," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. "I think his performance early on is going to go a long ways to how and if we can build those relationships in Korea."

But for now, the Twins are just happy Park was able to get a taste of Minnesota and Target Field as he tries to adjust to life in America.

"Baseball is baseball, so I think adjusting to the lifestyle will be a bigger challenge," Park said. "I haven't experienced Major League Baseball yet, but I've been trying to adjust to the culture. I will try everything I can to continue to adjust."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.